“Mr Ediga, thanks for being the parent chaperon for the 2nd grade school trip. Please be at the school by 9:30pm” said the note my daughter handed me on Monday. The school trip was on Wednesday, a weekday, which meant I had to take a day off from work. My daughter had volunteered me for the school trip without checking with me.
I did tell me daughter, politely, that she please check with me before volunteering me for something :).
The School Trip:
My daughters class was learning and discussing about old buildings and the whether they should be demolished or restored. And thus came the idea of the trip, to visit a few places in the city the school was located in.
The kids were all excited for this was their first outing of the year. Each parent got 5 kids to chaperon and a bag with 5 books and 5 pencils so the kids can sketch, write while on the trip.
The school bus was waiting for the kids and once everyone got in and clicked their seat belts, the bus took off.
The New Town Hall: My daughter corrected me when I referred to the building as the Mayors Office, she said its the new town hall. The bus stopped right outside the entrance of the building and the teacher went inside to inform the Mayors office about the kids arrival.
One of the parent chaperons trying to keep the kids engaged, asked the kids if they could describe what’s inside the building?
The kids raised their hands, waited for their turn and gave out answers when it was their turn. One kid raised his hand and said “The teacher is inside the building” – very creative indeed. All the kids burst into laughter and so did all the parents.
After a couple of minutes, the teacher got back in the bus, confirmed the mayors availability and all the kids made their way into the building. They were eagerly waiting outside the Mayors office and voila the door opened and it was the Mayor. Despite his busy schedule on a week day, the mayor made time for the kids. He shared the story of his trip as a child to Gettysburg and how it had made a strong impression on him. He hoped that this little trip can also have a similar impact on the kids.
He even shared a few historic tidbits about the city – the interesting one was that Geroge Washington had spent a night in the city enroute to his presidential inauguration speech in New York.
The old buildings:
The next set of buildings that the kids visited were the old buildings, one of them was actually built in the 17th century. The buildings still had some traces of the old constructions, the colorful and carefully etched glasses they used, the paintings depicting their lifestyle. The caretakers gave the kids a walk through of how these building stood the test of times and retained their historic past and stood tall till date. The kids also learnt how in difficult times the local people came together to help maintain, restore and rehabilitate the building.
One of the buildings which is now an arts center was at risk of being demolished to give way to a gas station. The local people fought back and fought hard enough and now it’s part of the National register of historic places which means this building is protected forever.
So what could have been a simple classroom 30 minute discussion, turned out to be a memorable field trip where the kids had an opportunity to see the so called old buildings and learn about them so they can make their own informed decision on whether to restore the buildings or let them ruin.
The teacher never disclosed the reason for the trip to any of the building caretakers.
The real education:
The education is not just about what’s in the books, it’s also about real life
The education is not just about solving math problems, it also is about solving real life problems
The education is not just about understanding the abstract concepts, it’s also about understanding the real human lives
The education is not just about applying ones intelligence it’s also about being sensitive
The education is not just about getting a degree and seeking opportunities for oneself it’s also about empowering and creating opportunities for those who are denied
Basically education cannot happen in isolation in between the four walls of the classroom, it must happen in harmony with the society in which we live in.
Ok – may be I’m reading too much into this small school trip, but i believe, it’s these small things that we are missing out in chasing the larger goals of life